Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy celebrate a decade of their multidisciplinary collaboration with a multimedia documentation of their singular improvisational performance practice.
MSHR is the audiovisual performance collective of artists Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy, a collaborative project focused on the building and exploration of sculptural electronic systems, cybernetic sessions that are captured as AV compositions, installation work and live performances. For the last decade they have toured the world with their unique, improvisational live show, centered around self-built analog synthesizers that use feedback from light and movement to create dense sonic landscapes. This innately somatic approach to synthesis is complemented with reactive visuals that form city-like circuitscapes, which are themselves extruded from diagrams describing the signal flow of MSHR’s electronic musical systems.
“The physical design of our musical interfaces comes out of our installation practice. It is important for the interfaces to have a poetic logic and facilitate deep, intuitive playing,” they explain. “This work explores the intuitive and technical gradients between sonic and sculptural forms, using digital chip conglomerates run as analog circuits and open-source software to sculpt mutually resonant hyperobjects.”
Liquid Conglomerate Presence Cycle marks 10 years of their singular performance practice, serving as a multimedia document of both the sound and visuals of their live show. The film is split into four chapters, Symbiotic Vocal Weave, Knotted Presence Tracer, Light Pulse Formation and Liquid Hand, with each chapter featuring a different improvisation with its own cybernetic framework. Recorded during a residency at the sound art organization Sonoscopia in Porto, Portugal, Cooper and Murphy describe Liquid Conglomerate Presence Cycle as a “a prism for the live set,” one that showcases the improvisational, exploratory DNA of their performance practice.
“In performing this composition, we act as agents within a synthetic ecosystem,” they say. “Improvisation inside a light-audio feedback system feels like moving stones in a river, interacting with an environment to shift the flow of its elements. These recordings capture the sonic dimension of raw electricity surging through a morphing constellation of analog computer chips, flashing bulbs and extreme (in)human presence.”
“This exploration comes out of an ongoing fascination with the emergent complexity displayed by the interwoven biological, ecological and technological structures that frame our experience as embodied humans today.” they continue. “Constructing and exploring our own synthetic generative systems is our way of engaging with these unperceivable fundamental forms.” Editing glimpses of live footage into the refractive textures of their lysergic circuit landscapes, MSHR visualise the emergence of the human from within the machine.
As much a response to their unique approach to improvisation as it is to the complex spatial theory that is central to their work, the pair have developed a reactive visual language to interpret the insertion of human physicality into electronic forms. Over its four chapters Liquid Conglomerate Presence Cycle represents a comprehensive statement from the duo in this language, tying together the many facets of their varied audiovisual practice.
For more information about MSHR and their work you can visit their website.
Watch next: Ryoji Ikeda Presents – point of no return